Tag Archives: school

Breeding Homework Haters?

24 Aug

I’m sure there are not many of us who will say they actually enjoyed doing homework. I’m not saying we didn’t have projects, assignments or subjects that we enjoyed occasionally or more than others. I just think finding many homework lovers would be hard to do.

As of now, Nia is a homework liker. She will work on it as soon as she can after school – even voluntarily doing the extra credit section at the bottom of the page that the teacher didn’t assign. Homework in Second Grade isn’t that time-consuming, extremely complicated (for her anyway – for me, it’s a different story!) or disagreeable. It’s spelling words, math word problems, comprehension and grammar. Nia doesn’t mind it. She does it because she’s supposed to. Because it will help her learn. Because she gets check pluses and smiley faces on her paper. She hasn’t learned to hate it – yet.

I’m afraid the negativity around it may soon start to grow because of a new reward system by her teacher. Apparently, the students are divided up in groups and they get blue strips for things they do well. When they get five, they members of the group get to skip a night of homework.

On the surface, it seems like a good way to encourage good behavior and productivity in the classroom. When I think about it though, I feel it could teach students to consider a night without homework as a good thing. After all, it’s being billed that way.

I told Nia I think it would be a great idea and beneficial to her brain if she does the homework even though she wouldn’t have to. She was actually excited about it, adding, “Maybe we’ll get another reward for me doing that!”

Just Say No to Silly Bandz but Enjoy a Coke

17 Aug

I’m not in school anymore yet I feel like I’m being tested. I’m sure my answers will be wrong – especially from an educator’s point of view – but as the always-being-educated I have to try to comprehend the logic.

I understand and sympathize with the need for teachers to maintain acceptable behavior and keep their classrooms free of distraction to provide an optimal learning environment for children. However, I’m concerned what some tactics may be teaching students.

Schools ban things all the time because of the hoopla the outlawed items cause. I never questioned it until getting a letter about what the teachers call “overpriced, colorful, plastic rubber band bracelets” or Silly Bandz. Apparently, the bracelets cause quite a raucous. The teachers say kids with them trade and fight over them. The kids without them covet them. To settle the situation, the Silly Bandz have been banned. (Other schools have also banned them.)

I understand this may be the most efficient way to solve the issue, but what about the teachable moments? I don’t believe that teachers should parent the children but I do believe children learn how to behave appropriately in society while they are in school – learning how to work through differences, jealousy and maybe even a criminal act (a student swiping another Bandz). Instead, the teachable moment is removed. Don’t like something? Ban it.

One thing that’s not being banned – despite the feelings of envy other students may feel – is the weekly reward of a bottle of Coke.

Nia’s teacher uses the refreshing beverage as a reward for the students with the most green strips at the end of the week. Now, I’m not a super health nut or anything. We let our kids eat junk. It just had my mind going because it’s not a secret about the health concern of sodas in schools. Also, this now means my child, who rarely gets caffeine (and when she does it’s like 5 ounces) now consumes 12 ounces of sugary, caffeinated yum in the middle of the day. Because I’m thinking the sodas are an inexpensive and desirable treat for the teacher and students, I’m not bothered enough to express my questions to the teacher. But I suppose I could always request Nia get a non-caffeinated beverage instead. After all, she’ll be getting one every week.  (Said like a super snobby mommy.)

The funny thing? Nia gets the Cokes but she never did wear her Silly Bandz to school when she was allowed. Maybe those teachers are on to something – no Bandz must mean better behavior. Lesson learned.

The Happy Faces, Boos and Memorables of the First Week

9 Aug

As I type this, the kids are sleeping like a bag of snakes (how their Papa Dave describes their extreme tossing and turning), ready to start their second week of Second Grade and Pre-K. The first week was great but there were a few speed bumps.

Ready for School!

First the happy faces:

  • Nia loves her teacher and is happy to have friends she knows from last year in her class.
  • Nate had a wonderful first week, scoring four blue days and one green. (Blue is the best and green is good. Yellow and red days mean sad face.)
  • Nia is excited to be back with her buddies at after-school.
  • Nate made it through the week without his blankey. He’s been pretty much carrying it around with him since birth. This is a milestone.
  • Nia aced her first spelling test and we received the results that she got incredible “exceeding” scores on her CRCT from last year.

Now, for the boos:

  • A little boy made Nia feel bad when he said she was “too little” to be in their classroom. Andrew says there will be a time when that kid will be begging for tiny girl to like him. So there, dude.
  • The Georgia Pre-K program revoked the funding for Nate’s school due to complications I can’t comprehend which means hardships for his school, our weekly fee goes up and others who weren’t supposed to pay will either scramble to find somewhere else, remove their child from Pre-K or struggle to pay. We are worried and praying for all involved.
  • Another child threw a rock and left a lump on Nate’s noggin.

And finally, some of the memorable:

  • One of the t-shirts I matched with a cute skirt was actually a pj top. I didn’t realize this until Nia told me she bragged to one of her friends, “I’m wearing my pj’s to school!” Great. It totally did not look like a pj shirt!
  • Nate insisted on wearing his “fast pants” every day because his the little girl he has a crush on would like them.
  • Nia says this year’s homework is going to be tough – not “easy” like it was in First Grade.
  • There’s a little boy who just stares at Nia. He doesn’t talk to her. Just stares. She says, “He’s just shy.” We’ll see.

Fingers crossed that the pros and memorables will outweigh the boos in the coming weeks!

No Crayola? Not Cool.

27 Jul

The season of school supply shopping is here. The kids start back to school in less than a week so we were forced to deal with side-by-side shoppers sifting through the special displays, slim pickings and deciphering the supply lists from the teachers. (I usually end up with one or two things that I can never match to their lists.)

This year, I had more on my mind than just successfully checking off the list in one trip. I started to think about whether Nia will be judged by other kids based off what folder, notebook or brand name crayon she had in her desk. Yes. I worry about a lot of stuff, a lot.

She wanted (and got) a Barbie folder. I couldn’t help but wonder, is that ok for a second grader to sport? I don’t know what’s cool and even if I did, should it matter? I know it shouldn’t but I also want to eliminate as many obstacles as possible from her new school year. I remember things like brand name clothes and sneakers being status symbols when I was in school. Even if you’re decked out in some GAP, Hollister or whatever’s cool these days, I tend to believe the in-crowd kids will still find something to pick on others about. I guess that’s more of a reason not to care. Andrew actually had the opposite concern, he was worried her Barbie/fancy school loot would make other children feel bad because they want horses and cats to hold their homework as well.

Just to be safe, I grabbed some plain purple folders too.

Cool Enough/Too Cool for School?

The First Week of First Grade

7 Aug
The Night Before
Her new black shoes, supposed to still be in the box, are on her feet as she prances around the house. They sparkle and she loves them. She loves the dress she picked to wear on the first day as well, but I won’t let her hold a dress rehearsal. The dress needs to stay clean.She tells me she wants me to put her hair in sponge curlers like her Lola did. (Something I’ve never done before.) Her Hannah Montana backpack from Honey is packed and waiting to be worn. She’s all set.Meanwhile, I nervously try to wrap the strands of her hair around the pink curlers. The big ones go on top right? Am I using too much hair? Andrew: I don’t think that’s how my mom does it. Nia: It feels like when Lola does it. Me: Nia, I hope you won’t be too sad if you don’t have curls tomorrow.
She's Off!  

The First Day
She wakes up with waves instead of curls. They work just fine and she is happy with them. (Phew.) Her backpack still looks giant on her even though she’s grown. Nate and I walk her to the bus and take what will be our traditional first day of school picture. (You have them too, right?)

She says her first day was fun and that she even talked out loud in class. She said they could only talk when they held the bear. When it was her turn, she told everyone that her name was Antonia (or Nia, she couldn’t remember what name she used and she points this out to everyone she tells the story to), that she liked playing outside and with her Barbies, that she was a 10 for the day (they measured how they were feeling like a thermometer) and that her favorite food was her mommy’s spaghetti. (Awesome!) She told me everyone is nice, even the boy who was mean last year. (Phew, again.)

The First Week
Nia was the “helper” for the week with a boy named Anthony (also ruled nice by Nia). She brought home homework each night – it was already finished by the time I got to see it. Eight spelling words like a, at, cat, the and counting objects and filling in the missing numbers. (“It’s too easy,” she says. I tell her to keep doing her best and that I’m sure it will get harder.) I was supposed to read her a story each night but she read the story to me. (And skipped ahead in the book.) On one homework assignment, she was supposed to put the words in alphabetical order – she did that sure, but then she spelled out other words that began with the other letters (even, first …).

She told me she didn’t like Phys. Ed. – that they made her do jumping jacks and she had to count them like this, 1,2,3,1 – 1,2,3,2 – 1,2,3,3 – and she counted them all out to 10 for me. She then asked, “Momma, what keeps our heart from bouncing around in our bodies?” “What color is our heart?” What does it look like? Where are our lungs? How does our brain stay up in our head?” … I tried to answer as many of them as I could. (I now call her the Constant Questioner because I feel like she just keeps firing them at us all day. One of my favorites, “Who made God?” I didn’t even know where to begin.)

Overall, Nia had a great week. Not only did she start first grade, she also started a yearlong gymnastics class. So far, she loves both. She said she told her school teacher she was a 10 each day because she was happy to be at school. She asked me why she couldn’t have gymnastics every day. All I can hope is that all the weeks go as well as this one did.

Congratulations on your first week of first grade Bean! It’s so much fun sharing in your adventures and your stories (heck, even your questions!).

First Grade Feelings

1 Aug

Super Excited!

Don’t let the picture fool you. Our little Bean was not very boisterous about visiting her first grade classroom. Sure, she gave the teacher a sweet little hug good-bye and she loves that she’s going to get to sit in the front of the class, but she was extremely shy the whole time, barely answering the teacher’s questions and definitely not talking to any of the other children who were checking out their desks.

All of those children seemed to tower over her too. If she’s not the tiniest first grader I’ll be surprised. She still looks like a Kindergartner and I guess I still wish she was one.

This is scary and I’m nervous. I just want her to be ok. I am fearful about what this first grade year will hold for her. Will she be shy the whole year?  There is only one kid in this class that she had class with last year and according to Nia, he wasn’t nice. I know I can’t protect her from everything. I know she’s going to have hurt feelings, have to deal with mean kids and learn by making mistakes but I just want her to be ok.

Despite the shyness, she still seems happy. That should be good enough for me, right?

Nia's Desk is in the Front

Loves his Big Sis

18 Aug


Nate woke up in time to enjoy some of Nia’s second day of school.  He wanted to walk her to the bus stop but had to have his own backpack too!


Class of 2021?!?!

16 Aug

First Day Excitement

It is so crazy to think that it will be the year 2021 when Nia graduates from high school.  I’ll be 43 years old.  What?  Wait a minute – I think I still have to get through the next 18 years of school days before I even let that cross my mind again.The first school day was fun, according to Nia.  She says she likes her teacher and the other students and thankfully didn’t have any major problems because our sweet, little neighbors watched out for her.  We are so grateful to have them in our lives. They are wonderful kids and we have a blast riding bikes and running from bees with them.


Knowing that they were with her on the bus eased my nerves a ton but that doesn’t mean I didn’t burst into tears as soon as the bus pulled away.  How could I not? That’s our precious baby and there she was, barely able to climb the stairs on the bus.

Tiny Legs Tackle Big Steps

She left for school all smiles and came home the same way – only really exhausted. It seems all the fun she had at school really tuckered her out.

All Smiles

Right after that last picture was taken, she asked if I could carry her home and then asked if she could rest.  Of course I’ll baby my baby – for as long as I can.

Ready or Not

13 Aug

The “Hello Kitty” backpack now sits filled with crayons, glue sticks, safety scissors, antibacterial lotion and notebooks.  Her matching “Hello Kitty” lunch box will soon be stuffed with her favorites.  She placed the order herself – peanut butter and jelly, applesauce and cheese crackers.  Oh and don’t forget the juice box, Momma.

Soon that backpack will weigh on her shoulders.  Now crisp and clean, on Friday it will begin its days of being dragged, kicked, dropped, tossed, used, abused and loved to pieces. The lunch box will soon start its important job of carrying the lunches I make with care – the one connection I’ll have with Nia during her long day away.  It will carry more than food, it will carry my love all zipped up with her PB&J – Momma hopes you like your lunch Sweets.  I’m thinking about you and hoping you have a great day at school.

I hope you learn a lot, laugh a lot, live a lot.  I hope your school days are happy days.  I’ll miss you while you’re there.  I’ll worry that you’re ok on your own.  You’re so small.  You’re so sweet.  Will they take care of you like they should?  Will they love your little ways like they should?  Will you make friends that you’ll have forever?  Will you want to invite them over to play?  Will kids be mean to you?  Momma can’t protect you there.  Be strong little girl.  Be brave.  Be nice.  Be helpful.  Be polite.  Behave.  Be fun.  Be you.

I love you Sweets.  Friday is your first of many days growing up but I will always remember you as my little girl with the “Hello Kitty” backpack that was adorably too big and that bounced when you walked.

The Graduate

31 May

Is it a bad thing when teachers and other parents come up to you after the ceremony and tell you what a “big” voice your child has or that she should be an actress?  They were smiling when they said it so I think they thought her enthusiasm was sweet but I’m not too sure.  I don’t care anyway.  She was adorable and I appreciate her volume because then I was able to understand what they were singing!

We’re so proud of our little preschool graduate and performer and look forward to more entertaining and touching memories!

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